Halloween is around the corner, so I decided to make a book list consisting of scary books. Since I am into classics lately, I dug into google and excavated some good old horror books. Who says Halloween has to be about ghosts and creatures of the dark only? In my list, I have books featuring unearthly creatures, portraying characters with twisted minds and depicting dystopian societies. Here are my 10 classic spooky reads for Halloween, 5 of which I’ve read and 5 yet to read:
1. Dracula – Bram Stoker
This is the most popular vampire story that almost everyone has heard of. What I love about this book is the brilliant writing style. Bram Stoker presents the story in the form of epistles, i.e., diary entries written by various characters. If you watched the movie and thought Count Dracula is a romantic character, this book will change your mind. In fact, I’d recommend it to young adults who love vampires as a reality check.
2. The Phantom of the Opera – Gaston Leroux
This one is on my To-Be-Read (TBR) list for quite a long time. After watching random clips from the movie and the title track’s performance by various artists, I am guessing that this is the tale of a ghost who haunts an opera house and tries to be the guardian angel of our heroine. If you are interested in watching a performance of the song, I’d recommend the ones where Christine is played by Sierra Boggess, Sarah Brightman, Nicole Scherzinger or Emmy Rossum. My favourite Phantom is hands down Ramin Karimloo.
3. Picture of Dorian Gray – Oscar Wilde
Technically, I’m not sure if you can call this a horror story in the regular sense, but you can definitely call it a psychological horror. Oscar Wilde blends dark themes with witty dialogues that make you ponder about societal norms. This is a must-read book that will definitely change one’s perspective.
4. The Call of Cthulhu – H.P. Lovecraft
One cannot call themselves a horror fan without tasting a book by Lovecraft, which is why I have been too afraid to pick this one up. Cthulhu is a cosmic being who is described as looking like an octopus, a dragon, and a caricature of the human form. That does not sound very scary, right? Except, this book is supposed to be terrifying. People say it will literally give you chills. For this reason, I might never read this book, but I’ll still put it on my TBR, in case I ever feel brave enough to read it.
5. The Tell-Tale Heart – Edgar Allan Poe
Anything by Edgar Allan Poe is dark and scary, but this one takes home the trophy. It was weird, creepy, dark, evil and extremely well written. I couldn’t sleep for a couple of days because every time I closed my eyes I could see a beating heart.
6. The Strange Case of Dr.Jekyll and Mr.Hyde – Robert Louis Stevenson
I am slightly ashamed to say that I have not read this book yet. Honestly, every single person I know has read this or at least knows the story. Based on the summary of the book, I reckon it features a twisted alter ego of a goody-two-shoes man. Sounds like a perfect fit for a thrilling Halloween read.
7. 1984 – George Orwell
Featuring a world where the government scrutinizes every action of every human being and has the ability to twist the truth and change the history on a whim, this book is the epitome of dystopia. It was such a scary read that it put me in a state of shock for weeks. No ghosts, no scary creatures (other than humans), no magic, but definitely scary.
8. The Haunting of Hill House – Shirley Jackson
Yet another popular book that has been recommended to me by so many people. Since this book has the reputation of being one of the best-written ghost stories ever, and I happen to be a scaredy-cat who has nightmares after watching the mildest horror movies, I will not be picking this up now, but will eventually get to reading it.
9. Brave New World – Aldous Huxley
This book is often seen recommended along with 1984. While 1984 is evidently a dystopia and shows the problems of a strictly policed society where even thinking against the government is a crime, Brave new world seems like a utopia but then turns out to be a dystopia. It shows you that a world designed to be perfect may not be so perfect after all. Recommended reading right after 1984 for the stark contrast.
10. Frankenstein – Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley
Another book I’m embarrassed to admit that I have not read yet, but better late than never, right? I don’t even have to give any detail about this book since it is pretty well known. It seems to have mixed reviews. Well, there is only one way to find out if I’ll like it and what better day to read about a man-made monster than on Halloween!
If you are someone who likes to listen to music while reading to set the mood, I’d recommend the Danse Macabre by Camille Saint-Saëns. It is THE Halloween music. A link to my favourite rendition below:
What better way to enjoy a classic horror book than with a piece of classic creepy music? And yes, like many classical pieces, you may find it boring at first, but it will grow on you.
Have you read any of these books? Did you find them scary? If you are a horror lover, drop me more suggestions that are not too scary, you know, the ones that just barely made it into the horror list.